The Psychology of Color in Movie, TV, and Video

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Color in movie and TV, is a robust storytelling device. It could possibly manipulate our feelings, direct our consideration, or ship us delicate messages that we might not even be consciously conscious of. On this article we’ll check out the psychology of color in Movie, TV, and Video, and present you some nice examples!

The Psychology of Color in Movie, TV, and Video

Color Symbolism in Movie: Some Color Concept

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Don’t groan an excessive amount of, we simply have to cowl a little bit of primary principle as a result of it helps us perceive color relationships and their emotional potential!

Hue, Saturation, Brightness

It’s helpful to know what this stuff are after we’re speaking about color.

  • Hue is the core color, the place on the color wheel should you like (we’ll come to color wheels in a second). It’s impartial of depth or brightness.
  • Saturation is how vivid the color is, how intense. In case you made the color paler, you’d be lowering the saturation, should you made it extra vibrant, you’d be growing it.
  • Brightness is how a lot gentle the color displays. Darkish shades (suppose navy blue for instance) have a low brightness, they take up extra gentle. Lighter shades (like yellow) have excessive brightness – they mirror extra gentle.

Worth, Chroma, Temperature

It’s not as integral, nevertheless it’s helpful to know these phrases too.

  • Worth is the colors lightness or darkness in comparison with others; in relation to one another.
  • Chroma measures a color’s distance from gray, so excessive chroma is near the pure hue, and low chroma is nearer to gray.
  • Temperature means colors may be heat or chilly, based mostly on how we really affiliate temperatures, so heat colors are reds, oranges, yellows (suppose fireplace, the solar, and so forth) and chilly colors are blues, greens, purples (snow, ice, water).

Color Symbolism in Movie: The Color Wheel

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A color wheel is a chart that exhibits you these color relationships we talked about, sometimes they’re sorted by major, secondary, and tertiary colors and every has its personal place on the wheel. How they’re positioned helps us perceive how they work together and complement (or distinction with) one another.

Major Colors

These are pink, yellow, and blue and so they kind the muse of the color wheel. These colors can’t be created by mixing different colors.

Secondary Colors

Mixing major colors creates secondary colors. These are: orange (pink+yellow), inexperienced (blue+yellow), and purple (pink + blue).

Tertiary Colors

In a easy sense, combining a major and secondary color offers us a tertiary color. Some theorists say tertiary colors are created by the blending of secondary colors. It doesn’t matter an excessive amount of for our functions!

Color Which means in Movie – What do the Colors Imply?

By wanting on the color wheel you possibly can see simply which colors complement one another – these colors are normally sat instantly reverse each other. You may also establish heat and funky colors. The relationships between colors and feelings are too huge to enter right here, however there are some common associations that most individuals agree exist – listed below are a number of the widespread ones.

Heat Colors

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  • Crimson: ardour, love, anger, hazard, pleasure, and power. Will be stimulating and attention-grabbing, but additionally aggressive and overwhelming in heavy doses.
  • Orange: pleasure, creativity, enthusiasm, heat, and optimism. Energetic and uplifting, however may also really feel low cost or infantile if used an excessive amount of.
  • Yellow: happiness, cheerfulness, hope, mind, and psychological readability. Shiny and optimistic, however may also come throughout as nervous or anxious in giant quantities.

Cool Colors

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  • Blue: calmness, peace, safety, belief, and loyalty. Will be enjoyable and soothing, but additionally unhappy or miserable relying on the shade and context.
  • Inexperienced: nature, progress, new beginnings, well being, and steadiness. Calming and peaceable, however can really feel stagnant or unimaginative in sure shades.
  • Purple: luxurious, thriller, knowledge, and spirituality. Will be elegant and complicated, however melancholic or intimidating relying on the hue.

Impartial Colors

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  • White: purity, innocence, cleanliness, simplicity, and religion. Will be calming and refreshing, however sterile or chilly in some settings.
  • Black: energy, sophistication, magnificence, evil, and dying. Will be hanging and dramatic, but additionally gloomy or oppressive if used an excessive amount of.
  • Grey: neutrality, steadiness, formality, and practicality. Will be calming and understated, but additionally boring or indecisive in some conditions.

These usually are not exhaustive, there are lots of extra, and naturally exceptions to the foundations, too. Colors may also imply various things to completely different cultures, which is one thing to concentrate on on the subject of potential audiences.

Color Symbolism in Films and TV: Examples

We’ve checked out color and what it may do when it turns into a story device, so now let’s check out some makes use of of color symbolism in motion pictures (and TV) with examples. 

Color Psychology in Movie: The Matrix (1999)


The pervasive inexperienced tint of the Matrix signifies the artificiality of the digital world, contrasting with the nice and cozy, pure tones of the actual world, highlighting the movie’s central theme of phantasm vs. actuality. It helps us consider the world of the matrix as ‘sick,’ the type of inexperienced we affiliate with nausea.

Color Psychology in Movie: Sin Metropolis (2005)


Sin Metropolis’s colouring (or lack of!) was extensively hyped. The stark black and white background, accentuated with bursts of vibrant pink and yellow, creates a hyper-stylised world of violence and keenness, reflecting the movie’s graphic novel roots. It’s additionally a nod to movie noir fashion, which tended to have themes of pessimism and menace all through.

Color Psychology in Movie: The Grand Budapest Lodge (2014)


Wes Anderson’s pastel palette is well-known, and very often a supply of inspiration itself. It evokes a way of whimsical nostalgia, which helps emphasise the movie’s eccentric characters. Exaggerated color schemes assist Anderson to push parts of the plot with out this changing into jarring or outlandish.

Color Psychology in Movie: Schindler’s Record (1993)


Schindler’s Record is among the most talked about movies on the subject of color psychology. The movie’s nearly solely black and white palette emphasises the starkness and horror of the Holocaust, with the occasional splash of color. A bit of woman in a pink coat is one among these few cases, as Schindler spots her in the course of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto. Later, her coat (pink once more, towards black and white) is seen once more, this time on a cart of useless our bodies, emphasising the brutality of the Nazis and that each single sufferer of the Holocaust is as ‘harmless’ and particular person as this youngster.

Crimson is utilized in The Shining to comparable impact, to foreshadow violence, hazard, and Jack Torrance’s descent into insanity.

Mad Males (2007-2015)


Mad Males makes use of color to nice impact in nearly every thing, from units, to costumes, and even props. Try TIME’s article on using color in Mad Males.

Stranger Issues (2016-present)


The nice and cozy, nostalgic hues of the Eighties distinction with the eerie, otherworldly blue-green tones of the Upside Down, creating a definite visible language for the present’s mixture of childhood journey and sci-fi horror.

The Handmaid’s Story (2017-present)


The Handmaid’s Story has, in my humble opinion, a number of the simplest use of color in current exhibits. Drawing faithfully from Atwood’s guide on which the present relies, the visuals of the oppressive pink of the handmaids’ outfits signify the subjugation of girls within the dystopian Gilead (and likewise their supposed promiscuity and sexuality from earlier than Gilead), usually contrasting fantastically towards backgrounds like stark white snow, which may give us the sensation of purity and innocence – one more reason that the Commanders’ daughters put on white. Each character’s garments ooze with color psychology to the purpose the place even simply visually seeing one one display is sufficient to perceive their function within the present.

The best way to Use Colors in Filmmaking

If you wish to attempt utilizing the rules of color psychology in your individual filming work then here is a sensible information on the way you may combine it into your inventive course of.

1. Perceive Your Narrative

What feelings do you wish to evoke? What themes are prevalent in your story? Take into consideration the personalities of your characters and the way color can be utilized to mirror their journey or growth.

2. Discover Color Schemes

Experiment with completely different color schemes to seek out the one which most closely fits your narrative. Take into consideration complementary colors for concord, contrasting colors for pressure, or monochromatic palettes for a selected temper. The selection of colors ought to match nicely with the tone and ambiance that you just’re going for.

3. Analysis Color Associations

Get to know the standard associations of colors and their psychological affect, and likewise study concerning the cultural and contextual variations in color meanings. That is actually necessary as a result of chances are you’ll do the precise reverse of what you supposed! There’s additionally loads of nuance within the utilization of sure colors. For instance pink may imply hazard, however it may additionally signify love and keenness.

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4. Pay Consideration to Set Design and Wardrobe

Color isn’t nearly grading, it’s best to contemplate the colors of your units, costumes, and props, too. These can contribute to the general affect of your work so guarantee that (should you’re in a crew) the manufacturing designer and costume individual are on the identical web page about any intentional makes use of of color.

5. Check and Refine

You’ll refine your script or edit your footage greater than as soon as, so be open to testing and adjusting your color selections. You can attempt take a look at screenings or share visible samples with a bunch to get suggestions after which if a few of your selections aren’t touchdown such as you thought they’d, there’s time to regulate earlier than a wider launch.

Maintaining with present tendencies of colors in filmmaking may be helpful. It doesn’t imply it’s important to observe them, however not less than if what’s en vogue you possibly can doubtlessly get a contemporary perspective or not less than know what’s hitting with up to date audiences on the time. By no means chase a development for the sake of it although.

7. Study from the Execs

Watching and studying from the works of nice film-makers and visible storytellers is an effective way to grasp find out how to use color successfully. You might even resolve that you just hate a selected fashion – Wes Anderson’s color selections, for example, may be very hit or miss with folks.

Conclusion: Color Which means in Movies

A variety of thought goes into using color in motion pictures and TV, whether or not that’s the general look of the piece, the costumes worn by characters, or the props adorning the units. They’re a robust storytelling system that may affect your feelings and general understanding of the story being instructed. Masters of color, like Spielberg or Anderson, are recognized for his or her intelligent use of color, whether or not that’s an in-your-face pastel palette favoured by the latter, or extra delicate punches like Spielberg’s ‘woman within the pink coat’ as we noticed from Schindler’s Record.

Color palettes can evolve and shift too, both all through a movie, or extra progressively by means of a TV collection, so subsequent time you watch your favorite film or present, look out for all of the nuance you’ll find within the colors used, and should you’re a filmmaker, attempt to convey color phycology into your individual work by giving our suggestions a attempt.

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About This Web page

This web page was written by Marie Gardiner. Marie is a author, writer, and photographer. It was edited by Gonzalo Angulo. Gonzalo is an editor, author and illustrator.

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